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Ivica Olic: The "New ***sic"

davor_suker2010-05-10 16:35:43 +0000 #1
Ozren Podnar reports...

Ivica Olic - three championships with three different clubs in 17 months!

The phenomenal Croatian striker Ivica Olic is a proud owner of a most remarkable achievement - that of having won three league titles with three different clubs in an interval of less than a year and a half, topping the scorers chart on two occasions along the way.

Now 24 years old, Olic celebrated his first title in May of 2002 when he lead NK Zagreb to the Croatian championship, ending the season as the top scorer with 21 goals. After his controversial transfer to Dinamo Zagreb, he repeated the feat in May 2003, winning another league and again finishing as the top scorer, this time with 16 strikes. Sold to CSKA Moscow last August, he lifted his third consecutive league trophy only 17 months after the first. He also found the net seven times in ten games, a strike-rate which would have guaranteed him the third top scorer award had he played the whole season.

Three times in a row he brought championship glory to a club which had not won the league for at least two years previous to Olic's arrival; three times in a row he was his club's top scorer, either in absolute terms or by strike-rate, and he also found the strength to shine in the Croatian national team. Last October he scored the Croats' winning goal against Bulgaria, earning his side a Euro playoff clash with the Slovenes, which eventually resulted in Croatia's qualification for the forthcoming Euro 2004.

Difficult to stop, difficult to... sign

Olic, 183 cm tall and 82 kg, is an Alen ***sic lookalike, a strong, pacy forward with predictable, but delightfully unstoppable vertical runs towards the goal, will certainly be one of Otto Baric's aces in Portugal, but he has at least one unfulfilled dream: to shine at a major European club, a destiny predicted to him by so many onlookers when he first appeared on the field seven years ago.

Not that his clubs have had an easy time signing him. All of his three past transfers were acrimonious, melodramatic and engulfed in a thick financial fog, typical of the Croatian way of doing business in professional sport.

Olic, a native of northern Croatia, made his name as a 17-year old during his second pro-season when he scored nine goals for the local Marsonia of Slavonski Brod in the Croatian top flight. Next autumn he fared even better, notching eight goals in only nine appearances, which was when Hertha Berlin gave him a chance to star in the Bundesliga. German football was a bit too much for the youngster to handle and some 10 months and only two league games later, he was first loaned and then finally transferred back to Marsonia.

That was the time when he struck a deal with Marsonia's president Drago Maric, guaranteeing the latter a share in any of Olic's future transfers. He would, in turn, make sure Olic was decently paid until such time as he was transferred abroad. Lest anybody forget, it is perfectly normal for Croatian club officials to simultaneously act as players' agents, with the question of a possible "conflict of interest" virtually never being raised.

The man who shocked Italy

Back then in 2001, in the wake of his Hertha failure, Olic was anonymous outside of Croatia, so before any major foreign deal was done, he had to be given more exposure within the Croatian first division. So, Maric and Marsonia loaned Olic to then ambitious NK Zagreb, which had built a fascinating side including an infernal dribbler in Antonio Franja, a mercurial supporting striker in Kruno Lovrek and a skilful maker and taker of chances Admir Hasancic. Spearheaded by Olic, NK Zagreb ran away with the league championship ahead of Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb, winning their first major trophy in ninety years of existence.

Now Olic was clearly famous in Croatia and the national team coach Mirko Jozic did not hesitate to call him up for the 2002 World Cup in Japan & Korea. The player justified the coach's confidence by scoring the equaliser against Italy, whom Croatia went on to beat 2-1, somewhat controversially due to a couple of strange refereeing decisions. After the World Cup, Olic was linked with a dozen European clubs, but no offer equalled his agent's expectations.

Hajduk offered themselves as the "launching pad" for the striker's coveted foreign transfer, but then Dinamo joined the race for his signature and the long "soap opera" regarding Olic's future began.

Finally, after a month of extremely difficult negotiations, insults and accusations between Marsonia, Zagreb, Dinamo and Hajduk officials, a compromise was reached: Olic was to be "parked" in Dinamo Zagreb, the much bigger of two Zagreb clubs, from which a more lucrative foreign transfer was more probable than staying in NK Zagreb. For a season, Olic would earn 750,000 euros and the bulk of the future foreign transfer would go to Marsonia.

Big in Russia

Olic did the trick again, scoring 16 goals as Dinamo won their first Croatian title in three seasons. Now surely Barcelona had to come along and sign him for 20 million euros, or at least that was what all the interested parties hoped for. However, after Juventus, Milan, Parma and Portsmouth all backed away from Olic's advisors' high demands, and after the 2003/04 season had already gotten underway practically everywhere, the interest of CSKA Moscow was seen as heaven sent. The final price of 5 million euros was significantly lower than anybody had previously predicted, for which many blamed Bosko Balaban, Silvio Maric and Igor Biscan, three resounding and expensive Croatian flops in the Premiership.

The complications surrounding his transfers never really bothered Olic, who remained strangely immune to the hullabaloo and fitted into the Russian Army side almost instantly. Although joining them in mid-season, he managed to score seven crucial goals in ten games, helping CSKA to clinch their first title in independent Russia.

If the western scouts have eyes, Olic will eventually end up in one of Europe's top leagues and not at a small club. The rumours say that Roman Abramovich finally spotted Olic when he starred for CSKA in their win over arch rivals Spartak Moscow in the Russian Supercup. Next day Moscow press screamed "Abramovich has chosen Olic for Chelsea", but other sources say that the most probable station for the speedy goleador is none other than Spartak themselves. Formerly the biggest Russian club has gone two seasons without winning the title and are ready to unload the record 10 million euros in order to secure the Croat. At least that would surely guarantee the championship thanks to the famous and so far infallible "Olic-effect".

davor_suker2010-05-10 16:49:34 +0000 #2
Most likely will become a first choice striker after Prso retires, and as we can see, has a lot of talent.

A move to the Premiership would suit him well, his style of game is perfect for it.
PrAvI HrVaT2010-05-10 17:11:58 +0000 #3
He should play somewhere beter then the crappy russian leagues.
davor_suker2010-05-10 16:53:13 +0000 #4
Yeah, same with Stipe, Leko and Srna in the Ukrainian leagues, but mafia pays pretty well
PrAvI HrVaT2010-05-10 16:54:51 +0000 #5
thats the only reason they stay.
davor_suker2010-05-10 17:19:40 +0000 #6
Yeah, and i dont think any of those clubs will be willing to part with their players unless its for a huge amount. I recall Liverpool expressing interest in Stipe and the Shakhtar guy said he wouldnt be sold for "any amount"
PrAvI HrVaT2010-05-10 18:04:05 +0000 #7

Originally Posted by davor_suker

I recall Liverpool expressing interest in Stipe and the Shakhtar guy said he wouldnt be sold for "any amount"

Thats cheap he better go to a better team
davor_suker2010-05-10 17:25:33 +0000 #8
A move to the Bundlesliga would suit him good.



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